Wildlife sightings in western Massachusetts are on the rise right now and one local animal control officer wants people to understand abnormal behaviors to look for, before getting concerned.
Foxes, raccoons, and bears - oh my!
Phones are ringing off the hook at animal control centers across the state, including West Springfield.
"One week, it's not uncommon for us to get almost 50 calls about wildlife issues," said West Springfield Animal Control Officer Jessecah Gower.
Gower told Western Mass News that people are calling with concerns about many different types of wildlife.
"We do get a lot of bear sightings, but we also get a lot of fox sightings, skunks, racoons. I mean we've been getting calls about baby birds and possums," Gower added.
As more people head outside this season, it's likely you'll encounter some of these animals, but what concerning behaviors should you look out for?
"Stumbling around acting almost like it's drunk, maybe being overly friendly with humans," Gower explained.
Other behaviors to watch out for include being aggressive, lethargic, or having visible wounds or fur loss.
"People are always concerned if they're out during the day, they have rabies. That's not true," Gower said.
Gower noted that seeing any of these animals out in your yard is not a reason for concern - even if it's a fox or a bear.
If you're still unsure about how to handle an animal interaction, always call animal control.
"I don't want to cause panic and I don't want, just because you see a fox or you see a racoon, that's something to be overly concerned with," Gower said.
Gower said that there is not an increase in calls from last season, but people should look out for unusual behavior.
Tonight at 6 p.m., West Springfield Animal Control is hosting a free event about living with - and preventing conflict with - bears and other wildlife. Concerned community members can take part in the discussion at the West Springfield Public Library with a biologist from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to learn more.
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